All I could see was carnage. Time stood still.
Somewhere deep down the bottom of the stairs, somewhere within a 1950’s antique kids wardrobe, was my dear old Nan- Millie.
Was she alive? Was she dead?
What had I done?
Do you remember the year 2002?
Will Young wanted to make everything bloody Evergreen. Remember Nelly, the rapper who has since faded in obscurity? As it was getting so hot in here, he wanted us to take off all our clothes. No wonder my generation has turned out so well with these role models.
You may have been lucky enough to have your own mobile phone. The trouble was, it was so large, it would be almost impossible to remove from your pocket. To avoid paying more than 10p, you’d communicate in the dreaded style of txt spk.
Y? 2 communic8 wif ppl ofc.
You could even get Nelly’s hot in here as a polyphonic ringtone. £3.99 well spent.
Elsewhere in 2002, Josh Harnett was having a very tough 40 Days and 40 Nights, there were rumours Dirty Den was returning from his watery canal in EastEnders, and the less said about Las Ketchup the better.
Meanwhile, one spring day in the surprisingly sheep-less Welsh town of Brynmawr (the town where I met my first girlfriend), there was a turbulent incident involving both my grandmother and my younger self.
Affectionately known as Nan, her house reeked of pets and cigarettes. The swirl of cigarette smoke had tinged the white walls with a sad shade of yellow. Young Rupert didn’t mind – I was so appeased by the continuous supply of Somerfield tropical fruit juice and endless biscuits, that I failed to notice the bad living conditions. I felt like the little prince on my visits, despite being an oblivious passive smoker.
Nan was having a spring clean. Included in this clean was a 1950’s children’s wardrobe, decorated bizarrely with a horse sticker. It was a cumbersome, horrid difficult piece of badly designed vintage furniture designed during The Cold War.
Less Ikea, more no idea.
This wooden beast was white, with brown ridged décor and a slide door that didn’t even open. Even King Kong would need to use his entire body weight to push the door across.
Strength wasn’t my strong point, as you will later discover. I had arms that resembled pork twigs at this point, with my stepfather saying that there ‘was more fat on a chip.’
Other comparisons of my appearance included a stretched Mike Teevee from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Nan wanted this wardrobe taken downstairs, in case some children wanted it. Nan. It was 2002. They wanted Bob the Builder or GTA: Vice City. The wardrobe would probably be better used as firewood or maybe as a shield whilst trekking across the nearby council estate.
Instead of taking the wardrobe into different pieces, she wanted the whole thing taken down the stairs. Nothing can go wrong. Right?
Nan explained she’d go at the front and I’d grip and hold onto it from the back.
We’d go down one step at a time.
It made the ‘To Me, To You’ plans devised by the Chuckle Brothers seem almost ingenious.
After sliding the wardrobe from the bedroom, we got into our respective positions at the top of the stairs. I heard her muffle from the other side of the wardrobe.
“Okay Rupert. Nice and slow, one step at a time”.
Nan moved a step down as we held onto it.
The wardrobe, as if developing sentience, leaned sharply forward down the stairs, menacingly aiming for the living room. The huge, vintage wooden mass was suddenly descending dramatically downward.
I tried to grip on to it, desperately. I was too weak. The wardrobe now had a devilish mind of it’s own. I fumbled with my hands to try and grab on to some part of it.
I desperately aimed to grab an edge, but all I caught was thin air.
I watched with sheer horror as the wardrobe flew down the stairs, with my Nan going down with it.
An almighty crash followed.
The wardrobe had chased her down the stairs and pinned her against the wall at the bottom of the living room. The edge had pierced her chest. Blood had started coming out of her mouth, splattering against her fetching charity shop cardigan. Her eyes were closed, her skin had gone a ghostly pale.
I genuinely thought she was dead.
The wardrobe blocked the end of the stairs. With adrenaline pumping through my veins, I had developed the agility to do a parkour move. My boy body flew over the bannister.
I didn’t know what to do. They don’t train you how to do deal with wardrobe collisions at Scouts. (Not that I ever went.)
I wanted to move it, but I was worried more damage would be caused to an already fragile situation- being crushed after flying down 13 steps.
My brain was numb with erratic, scared thoughts.. My heart thumped in my chest.
Using some initiative, I rushed to the back door, opened my lungs and shouted TERRRRYYY to the next door neighbour. I couldn’t tell if he had even heard me.
I then phoned up my Uncle. Grabbing the bricky Nokia off the table, I spoke with an exasperated, rapid tone, my voice lost in panic.
He thought it was a prank call. I wasn’t winning.
I then dialed 999 for the first time in my life. The operator they tried to calm me down and make sense of things. As I was pacing the living room, I heard a sputter wheeze out from the stairs.
Nan had came back to life with a stir.
I felt a shot of relief. Her eyes half closed, she began to mutter something under her breath but it was incomprehensible. She looked delirious, drifting in and out of consciousness.
I then heard the door handle open. Terry the neighbour, a man who resembled a bear, appeared in the doorway, looking at us in horror. He rushed over and managed to move the remains of the wardrobe off of her. He took her in his arms and rested her on the sofa. She was more shocked than anything, and miraculously, seemed to be relatively unscathed despite facing an malevolent wardrobe.
The ambulance soon followed, the nee-naws and blue lights overwhelming the small town with the most excitement its seen in decades. My Nan refused to go with them at first as it wasn’t important, despite her flying down the stairs and getting punctured by a 5 foot tall and heavy piece of furniture.
She was more concerned about the bacon on the grill she had left to cook on a low heat. What about the bacon? She exclaimed.
Eventually we managed to persuade her to get checked herself out at the hospital. It turned out she was fine. I imagine she was warned that a 74 year old and a boy were not the best candidates for taking furniture down steep steps.
I can’t remember what happened to the wardrobe, I don’t think it left the house in one piece. I never feel comfortable taking awkward and cumbersome objects up the stairs anymore, I’m probably slightly mentally scarred by this crazy incident.
The years passed. Whenever I brought up the story of the wardrobe incident around Nan, she’d quickly change the subject. Drifting back to her monthly copy of Puzzler magazine, she would ingest some Jaffa Cakes and pretend the whole thing never happened. Vote below on an alternative method you could have suggested to Millie.